Title: The Chains of Their Sins (Taking Shield: Book Four)
Author: Anna Butler
Publisher: Glass Hat Press
Length: 283 Pages
At a Glance: I don’t think I’ve ever cried as often or as much while reading a book as I did with this one.
Reviewed By: Jennifer
Blurb: Shield Captain Bennet arrives on the Gyrfalcon to take up his final year’s posting before returning to the Shield Regiment after his rotation out.
On Gyrfalcon he faces up to the fallout from Makepeace—ethical, political and above all, personal. Will he be able to accept necessity: that knowing what the Maess are up to outweighs the humanitarian issues surrounding the prisoners he rescued from Makepeace? Can he ride out the political furore that follows the loss of the dreadnought Caliban? How will he cope with an entire year of serving under his father, Caeden? And worst of all, how in the name of every god in the Pantheon can he stand to see Flynn every single day, with the Fraternisation Regs standing between them and keeping them apart?
It will be an interesting year. Bennet can hardly wait for it to be over. Of course, things never really do go to plan…
Warning: Possible Series Spoilers
Review: Before I start the review proper, I must say that if you have not read the first three books in the series, you must go back and read them. Also, if you have not read the third book, Makepeace, then I would stop reading this review now and know that I loved this book. I may let slip information from the third book in order to talk about this book.
Since I started reviewing this series in 2015, with the release of Gyrfalcon, I have made my love for the books clear. At least I hope I have. Bennet and Flynn have become two of my favorite characters of all time, and with this book, Anna Butler has usurped all other authors as my favorite. Never before have I read a book with such detailed characters and relationships. As I’ve said before, these are more than just characters. They are so heartbreakingly real, as are their relationships.
This book follows the events of Makepeace and picks up where it left off. Bennet is once again on the Gyrfalcon, his father’s dreadnought, which is just about the last place in the universe he would rather be, and it’s not just because of his father. No. On the ship he will once again come face to face with Flynn, the man he fell in love with over four years ago, despite not being able to be with him. And just because years have passed since they last saw each other, it’s clear that neither the passion nor the memories have faded.
But there are rules, and Bennet will be damned if he breaks those rules. And Flynn, knowing he wants but cannot have, agrees to the rules. But it’s going to be the hardest thing he’s ever done.
As the data from Makepeace is analyzed, more horror awaits as Bennet and Felix begin to piece together what the Maess have been doing with their human prisoners. It will throw the entire political world in upheaval, and it brings up even more moral and ethical gray areas that Bennet would rather avoid.
I don’t think I’ve ever cried as often or as much while reading a book as I did with this one. Bennet and Flynn are so fully realized. Anna Butler truly has a gift when it comes to crafting characters and relationships, and other authors would do well to study what she has created.
Even though I cried often, and reading it physically hurt my heart, I appreciated the depth of emotions. Butler avoids so many tropes that, while good on occasion, often leave me wanting more. Too often I’ve read books where the drama and heartbreak between characters is due to some misunderstanding that would be cleared up if the characters would just talk to each other. And half the time it’s over something simple.
Not so with this book. Bennet and Flynn talk. Oh, do they talk. They lay their emotions and feelings for each other right out on the table from day one, and often throughout the book, and they constantly reassure each other that it will be fine, they’ll be fine. And that right there was what got me. These are two men who know what they want and they cannot have it. The regulations forbid it due to Bennet’s position on the ship. Flynn wants and can’t have. Bennet wants and can’t let himself have. They both know it, are constantly aware of it, and still they are stuck in that position. No amount of talking will solve their problem. And the constant little reminders that they are fine—even when they are not—often had me breaking down.
Knowing this made it more painful to read because there wasn’t a simple resolution. I wanted there to be, god knows I did, but there’s not. Just like in real life, not everything is black and white.
Don’t get me wrong, the focus of this book is not the romance. This is hard science fiction, an epic space opera at its absolute finest, and it just happens to have two male leads who have fallen in love with each other during a war. Two men who should never have even met. The tension is there, it is palpable, and it does surface often, but the book does not completely revolve around it. Bennet has to deal with the fallout from Makepeace and the new ethical problems that arise. Flynn’s problems are a little less severe on the grand scale, but for a man who lived on sex, and who has fallen in love for the first time in his life, this is a major shift for him, and, as he is fond of mentioning, the minute shift of atoms by the universe has completely disoriented him.
There will be another book, and I am counting down the days until it is released. I need to know what happens next. Anna Butler never fails to deliver an outstanding book that is meticulous in its details to science of the world. For fans of the series, this is another wonderful installment. If you haven’t read the first book yet, you are seriously missing out.
You can buy The Chains of Their Sins here:
About the Author
Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.